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Bodyline Pvt Ltd, based in Horana, Sri Lanka, is a leading apparel manufacturer engaged in product design, development, execution and marketing to global super brands including Victoria's Secret, Nike, Triumph, Pink, Sloggi, VSX, Arena and Odlo, across multiple product categories. The company is a joint venture between MAS Holdings, MAST industries and Triumph International. Dilshan Mohamed, director, supply chain management, reveals the latest industry trends and discusses the shifting consumer preferences in a conversation with Fibre2Fashion.
What is the global market for lingerie? What is the expected growth rate by 2020?
According to industry data, demand for lingerie products is increasing every year. The lingerie market in 2015 was worth $33 billion and is expected to grow to $55 billion by 2024, according to Transparency Market Research. Intimate products were used as an essential innerwear by women in the past. But today it is used as more of an outerwear item that incorporates more aesthetic designs and fashion. Online marketers like Amazon, Zalando, ASOS and other e-commerce brands are focusing on lingerie and that will improve the global demand through social media. Accurate measurement tables, attractive return policies and cheaper options are increasing the online ordering of clothing, making a shift in the buying platforms.
Lingerie encompasses more than just bras and knickers today. What are the latest additions to this segment?
With the shift in lifestyle, global markets have led to a change in demand adding more categories to lingerie. Bandeau, sports bras and camisoles with bra pads are simple examples of such diversification. Consumers are also moving into pasties, silicon cover and backless bra, which are a complete shift from the traditional bra to simple solutions.
According to Edited, a company that helps the fashion retail industry with data, in the last two years pads increased by 17 per cent, nursing bra by 36 per cent and bralettes by 123 per cent.
Which are your major markets for lingerie? Where do you see the prospects growing?
Currently, the United States and the European Union (EU) are the biggest lingerie markets for us. The future growth is anticipated from America and Asia Pacific. However, global growth is anticipated across all continents except Europe and Australia. Though China had its market, with the quality of life improving, consumers are now looking for more branded items. This opens up new opportunities for global brands.
What factors affect the company's supply chain decisions the most?
Supply chain depends on government policies, market-behaviour led customer bargaining power on price, lead time, innovation and geographical location.
Duty concession, such as GSP+ and tax concessions for certain countries, could change the supply chain decisions in a company. Customers are demanding more for less. As an industry the lead time taken from design to delivery is too long. Except for a few, majority of the brands work on a lead time of about 12 to 18 months from design to delivery. These timelines are challenged in today's world.
There are many innovative solutions offered through design and material today. There are options like odour-free, fast-drying and wearable technology.
How is Industry 4.0 expected to impact the intimate wear industry?
The 4th industrial revolution will bring in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, nanotech, 3D printing, robotics, autonomous vehicles, backed up with big data. The new technology is in its early stages now. Most of the customers have not yet adapted themselves to such technologies. This tells that the benefit of Industry 4.0 is yet to be felt as a whole. But a few manufacturers are starting to use augmented reality and virtual reality to design products, wearer trials, etc. Robotics and automated machines are picking traction, which helps to customise garments and reduce the overall lead time by shortening the process. However, it will be felt in the next two to three years with a few major players looking at fully automated factories to produce apparel.
What are your top five human resource (HR) policies that help you stand out from your competitors?
The industry is still heavily dependent on people, mostly women. This has lot of challenges as most women on the shop floor are still concerned more about short-term earnings instead of long-term career due to social and family commitments. Therefore, we focus on creating a safe and healthy working environment, developing people at every level, work-life balance, international labour standards and stay connected with the workers through various corporate social responsibility and sustainable activities.
What are top 3 drivers in the lingerie market?
The top three drivers are new brands and functional products with good aesthetics entering the market at more affordable prices; influence of social media and online sales; and the demand for new product categories because of fitness and lifestyle concerns.
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